Posts Tagged ‘United States’
Within a letter written to Samuel Kercheval, Thomas Jefferson included the following passage:
Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead. I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. It is this preposterous idea which has lately deluged Europe in blood. Their monarchs, instead of wisely yielding to the gradual change of circumstances, of favoring progressive accommodation to progressive improvement, have clung to old abuses, entrenched themselves behind steady habits, and obliged their subjects to seek through blood and violence rash and ruinous innovations, which, had they been referred to the peaceful deliberations and collected wisdom of the nation, would have been put into acceptable and salutary forms. Let us follow no such examples, nor weakly believe that one generation is not as capable as another of taking care of itself, and of ordering its own affairs. Let us, as our sister States have done, avail ourselves of our reason and experience, to correct the crude essays of our first and unexperienced, although wise, virtuous, and well-meaning councils. And lastly, let us provide in our constitution for its revision at stated periods. What these periods should be, nature herself indicates. By the European tables of mortality, of the adults living at any one moment of time, a majority will be dead in about nineteen years. At the end of that period, then, a new majority is come into place; or, in other words, a new generation. Each generation is as independent as the one preceding, as that was of all which had gone before. It has then, like them, a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes most promotive of its own happiness; consequently, to accommodate to the circumstances in which it finds itself, that received from its predecessors; and it is for the peace and good of mankind, that a solemn opportunity of doing this every nineteen or twenty years, should be provided by the constitution; so that it may be handed on, with periodical repairs, from generation to generation, to the end of time, if anything human can so long endure. It is now forty years since the constitution of Virginia was formed. The same tables inform us, that, within that period, two-thirds of the adults then living are now dead. Have then the remaining third, even if they had the wish, the right to hold in obedience to their will, and to laws heretofore made by them, the other two-thirds, who, with themselves, compose the present mass of adults? If they have not, who has? The dead? But the dead have no rights. They are nothing; and nothing cannot own something. Where there is no substance, there can be no accident. This corporeal globe, and everything upon it, belong to its present corporeal inhabitants, during their generation. They alone have a right to direct what is the concern of themselves alone, and to declare the law of that direction; and this declaration can only be made by their majority. That majority, then, has a right to depute representatives to a convention, and to make the constitution what they think will be the best for themselves. But how collect their voice? This is the real difficulty. If invited by private authority, or county or district meetings, these divisions are so large that few will attend; and their voice will be imperfectly, or falsely pronounced. Here, then, would be one of the advantages of the ward divisions I have proposed. The mayor of every ward, on a question like the present, would call his ward together, take the simple yea or nay of its members, convey these to the county court, who would hand on those of all its wards to the proper general authority; and the voice of the whole people would be thus fairly, fully, and peaceably expressed, discussed, and decided by the common reason of the society. If this avenue be shut to the call of sufferance, it will make itself heard through that of force, and we shall go on, as other nations are doing, in the endless circle of oppression, rebellion, reformation; and oppression, rebellion, reformation, again; and so on forever.
Paul Ryan, Chick-Fil-A, Medicare, Top Marginal tax rates, unemployment, NDAA, drone strikes, Fast and the Furious gun walking, Bush Tax cuts… these are the things that have been the topics of US political discussions lately. And almost every single issue has been so clouded that it’s almost impossible to discuss them. The whole Chick-Fil-A issue is just fucking ridiculous, and I’m going to go into more detail about that issue again. But it’s really more than that…
I have been reading the comments the past few days about how Dan Cathy, COO of Chick-Fil-A, has the “right to freedom of speech” and that the “Liberals” hate free speech and want to silence opposition, and other such bullshit. It’s like a complete twist of logic that would be worthy of a 4th grade playground argument.
Here’s the deal: Dan Cathy has the right to say any fool thing he wants to say. He can claim that gays are evil and that Jesus hates them. Nobody gives a shit, really. But people do take offense to claims that the country deserves to have bad things happen to it if LGBT citizens are treated as equals. People take more offense when a company donates millions to hate groups.
This is how freedom of speech works: People have the right to publicly make any claim they want. That applies to Dan Cathy, and those that disagree with him. I’m really sick and fucking tired of Conservatives claiming that people taking offense to their offensive statements are “infringing on their freedom of speech.”
NO! That’s not how it works. (more…)
I have written about the Second Amendment in the past. After the events of the Aurora shooting at the premier of The Dark Knight Rises, I felt I needed to rehash the topic. For anyone that does not know, a gunman entered the premier of the Dark Knight Rises clad in kevlar, set off a smoke bomb and opened fire on the patrons, with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and killed 12 people and injured 58 others.
Many people have claimed this is “not the time” to discuss gun control or the Second Amendment. This is exactly that time. The sad reality is that this is really a small percentage of gun related injuries and fatalities that occur in America.
First, let’s look at the Second Amendment text:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
This is how it appeared in the final edit by Thomas Jefferson, ratified by the States.
The Second Amendment has only been directly addressed by the Supreme Court about four times. I think it is about time it was addressed again. I do not see how this amendment applies to the right of Americans to carry about firearms and kill each other.
So often Conservatives want to talk about how they are “strict Constitutionalists,” so concerned with original intent. Although I do not completely agree, I think this is one case where it is important to understand the true meaning of the passage.
In the 18th Century, the term “militia” was quite different than it is today. A militia, at the time the Second Amendment was drafted and ratified, was a civilian army that consisted of all citizens eligible to vote. According to the powers enumerated in Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution, the role of the “Militia” was to “execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions” as per the discretion of Congress. In this sense, the “militia” refers to an American military comprised of civilians, not career soldiers. Who regulates the “well regulated militia”? Congress.
The next bit of the Second Amendment points to “the security of a free state.” I feel this is integral in understanding the true meaning of this Amendment.
If we take all of these parts and put them together, the Second Amendment states that the government cannot disarm the civilian military, as they are necessary to defend the nation from foreign and domestic enemies.
Nowhere in this Amendment does it talk about defense of property, or even of person. The Second Amendment does not say that everyone has a Constitutional right to have a loaded gun… it says that everyone has a Constitutional right to be safe.
In my interpretation of the Second Amendment of the United States, it states quite clearly that there shall be no military industrial complex. It does not say that we have the right to shoot our neighbours.
I haven’t been writing lately. I know. It’s not that I have been busy. I’m just really full of existential malaise. The current state of American politics is depressing. I have had general discussions with like minded individuals (mostly other academics that study politics). I have been wondering why things are in the state they are in and why it is so frustrating.
I have concluded that it is the culmination of several problems. One is the general shift to the Right that has been going on in America for the past 30 years. On top of this, the general tactic of the American Right is downright frustrating, seemingly on purpose.
First of all, I don’t know how many times I have to point out that Barack Obama is not “far Left” or a “Socialist” or anything extreme in any context. If one were to go to Political Compass, it’s pretty clear where Obama stands… pretty centered. He’s more conservative than the Labour Party and as authoritarian as the Conservatives in the UK. (Less authoritarian than any GOP candidate, aside from Ron Paul.) Obama has even moved farther right since 2008. Yet, the Conservatives continue to claim he is a “radical.” Yes, if Reagan was also a radical.
There is a constant distortion of the issues. This makes any semblance of a coherent ideology almost impossible. They claim to want a small government, but turn around and want the government to dictate which people can be married. They want freedom of religion, as long as everyone is a Christian. They want lower taxes but they want to decrease debt. They want to “take America back” to a period of unprecedented wealth, but they want to ignore all the tax rates and policies of that time period. They talk about fairness in tax code, but they don’t want to close loopholes that allow the wealthy to pay lower taxes.
Half of the claims made by the new Right are baseless. This whole Libertarian, Alex Jones conspiracy nonsense is dangerous… I see what the Libertarian newsletters say… it’s all hyperbole. The economy is going to collapse and we are going to be living in Mad Max world… so stockpile guns and food. If that is what you are anticipating, why should you be allowed to make any policy decisions?
My constant defense of President Obama is often taken to be support of President Obama. This is not the reality. I criticise this president all the time, but with valid criticisms. I want to talk about policy, not about if Barack Obama was born in Kenya or is a radical socialist… because that is just hyperbolic distortion. The only reason I tend to side with Democrats or President Obama is because they are the only legitimate counter to the current Right Wing extremists in America.
What resource has this president nationalised? The only thing close to socialism this president has done is the Affordable Care Act… which is the most business friendly health care act in the Western world.
A woman testifies that birth control can effectively be used to control uterine cysts… and she is called a “slut” for wanting her health insurance carrier to pay for treatment that some churches disagree with… really?
And then, when people question the president’s nationality, and we ask why… we are told that we are making distortions. I’m trying my best to find coherent ideology on the Right, and none of it is plain. None of it is open. Hidden under all these layers of hyperbolic subterfuge is this ideology of supply-side economics… a failed economic ideology… and moral legislation. Maybe they don’t want us to be able to see it plainly because it resembles fascism so much.
All I know is that when you put all these distortions together, you just get static. The American Conservative today runs on a platform of white noise. How do you debate that?
I came upon this image on Facebook last night. It says so much, so quickly, but none of it is very positive.
- Tea Party Birther's are not racist?
First, just to be critical, let’s look at the image. What it is implying is that President Obama is a Kenyan citizen and not a valid president. The innuendo in the image is quite obvious. He is wearing a Kufi, which is often considered a Muslim hat, but is predominant in West African heritage (and African Americans). It says “Africa Kenya” on the “Birth Certificate.” There are bones on his necklace. The Obama button is now earth tones, instead of Red, White and Blue. The imagery is just degrading.
The Kufi is not a “Muslim” hat, but typically West African. Kenya is in East Africa. That does not mean they do not wear such adornments in Kenya, only that it is “stereotypical” of the West. It would be similar to showing a Virginia teenager with a surfboard and a VW Bus. Farther, the year Obama was born, Kenya was part of the United Kingdom. The correct name of the country in 1961 was “Colony and Protectorate of Kenya.” Prior to this, it was just officially called East Africa Protectorate, as part of British East Africa.
Then we get to those bones on the necklace. This is just racist imagery. The portrayal of the “African Savage.” And is he sitting on hay? I can’t even figure that one out. How is this not a depiction of racism? It demeans the character of the President of the United States because of the colour of his skin. It attempts to invalidate he capabilities simply because he has a West African phenotype.
On Tuesday, a man was convicted in Knoxville, Tennessee of using a firearm with the intent to “create civil disorder.” This man was incentivised by the ideology that President Obama is not an American born citizen. People still believe this crap. Why is this funny? What year is this?